Star Trek At 50

Star Trek At 50

People sometimes ask me: “What did you learn from being a lifelong Star Trek fan?”

I’ve learned a lot of things, but two of them stand out:

  1. Stand up for what you believe in.Let me tell you: being a Star Trek fan as a child of the 1970s wasn’t easy. You were a nerd, an idiot fan of a dead TV show, and you got bullied mercilessly.  My name might as well have been “Spock.” That’s what everyone called me.

    Not that I discouraged it.  At about age ten, I actually shaved off half my eyebrows to look more Vulcan.  I had my hair cut like Spock’s.  He was a childhood idol.

    However, the bullying was real. They called you names — individually and in groups. They occasionally issued (and carried out) threats to your person.

    Frak them all. 40 years later, I’ve got an endless stream of wonderful memories.

    I’ve made lifelong friends: people I met decades ago and still communicate with. Some of them are probably reading this.

    I’ve been to conventions — good ones and bad.

    An overweight friend took advantage of weight in costume contests.. One year, she came as a giant tribble. The next, she went as Vejur.

    I refused to play along with a reporter trying to make fans look like idiots. He ended up not liking me very much.

    (He asked if I wore my costume all the time. I patiently explained that I wore it to cons and on Halloween.

    (“Does your wife wear her crotchless panties, garter belt, and fishnet stockings all the time?” I asked. “No: she wears them when it’s appropriate.”)

    I’ve sung “Banned From Argo” around a campfire.

    I’ve gotten drunk on something green. To this day, I have no idea what it really was. Colored Everclear, very likely.

    I’ve met fans from all over the world. As a boy, I met a similar-aged kid in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He was from Los Angeles.

    We identified each other with the Vulcan salute, and from that moment on, Jewel Cave became an alien planet that we explored.

    I’ve played role-playing and strategy games.

    Back in my acting days, I played Starfleet Battles between scenes of a play.

    I’ve spent all-nighters in a basement church, moving tiny ship models on the cleared-off floor. You aimed by eyeball, and fired weapons based on a length of string run between yourself and the enemy ships. There were usually half a dozen players running small fleets..

    I’ve been to Riverside, Iowa (the future birthplace of James Kirk) with the best bunch of fans a person could ask for.

    At Riverside, my elder daughter (an infant at the time) was adorned with a Bajoran earring and declared an honorary Bajoran by our group.

    I’ve built models — badly. I know they were bad, because I’ve seen what real modelers can do.

    I’ve chatted up actors, writers, and Uberfen over drinks.

    I once gave Michael Dorn my headshot to sign instead of his.

    I have two Starfleet uniform costumes in my closet.

    I have the engineering curlique tattooed on my right shoulderblade.

    Believe me: it’s perfectly fine to be a minority of one. Do what you love, and the rest of the universe be damned.

  2. Star Trek fandom is filled with the most creative, quirky, funny, and intelligent people one could ever meet.

    Over the decades, they have created fanzines, costumes, props, comics, games, and art.
    I’ll never forget ten-foot-high woven tapestry of Spock’s wedding featured at Star Trekon 76 in Kansas City.

The one thing we all have in common is that when we get together, we can just be ourselves — no matter how weird it might seem to the ‘danes.

As they used to say in the 1970s: